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September 2021 - Two stop safari: Lower Zambezi (very hot, swaggy & magical) and SLNP (very hot)....


North
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Thought I’d contribute in some fashion or other to the forum, after reading so many fantastic trip reports over the past few years. I confess I’ve been a bit lazy – I’ve been a lurker for some time, and while I’ve been to a number of African countries on a number of interesting safari’s over the last five years or so, I’ve yet to post a trip report in any forum whatsoever, whether Trip Advisor, here at Safari Talk or elsewhere. 

 

My first safari was to Tanzania, and pretty much since then I’ve been hooked. To be blunt, I was somewhat naive – I wrongly assumed that this was just a bucket list type of thing, something to check off the list, something to tell the grandkids about, been there and done that.  But something strange happened on that opening trip, of course to no one else in my family, just me.  Turns out I bit really hard, and the hook it seems is set quite firmly.  Appears I cannot spit it out.  And to be frank – I’m a bit of a junkie now.  And while it’s a habit that’s not particularly unhealthy, it is however quite expensive, and can eat up large portions of my time.  

 

So understanding all that, since Tanzania, I’ve now been to Botswana, Kenya, and Zambia.  And not certain how this happened– but I’m actually going back to Bots in November of this year (late next week in fact, November 7th, so that will definitely impact finishing this trip report in a timely fashion).  My wife realizes now (she’s said so) that these trips just seem to book themselves…

 

So, the deets on when, where, and how I got there:

This trip was originally planned for the fall of 2019, specifically October. Unfortunately, it had to be deferred to the fall of 2020 (my son is dealing with ongoing major depression, and about a month before the 2019 planned trip, we had a bit of a situation).  Jump ahead to the fall of 2020 – the trip is once again deferred due to the viral situation, and pushed ahead again, now to 2021.

Dates:  September 2nd through September 21st 2021 (20 days in camps).

Camps (in order of appearance):  Old Mondoro, Chiawa, Kaingo, Mwamba, Tafika.

Flew with Qatar Airways from Montreal to Doha, and then a direct flight from Doha to Lusaka.  Overnight at Latitude 15, and a flight to Old M early afternoon the next day. 

 

A note on the pictures that appear in this report. In my mind, there are at least four classes of photographers – the beginner, the intermediate or enthusiast, the burgeoning pro, and of course the expert (which many of you are with your wonderful pictures on this site).  In fact, I’m certain I’ve seen some of you on safari, with your carefully coordinated tan or sage safari-chic matching outfits, and of course your eight-foot-long white lenses (nine feet with the hood) protruding from the side of the vehicle like some sort of medieval cannons).  If I didn’t say hello, I apologize.  I’ll get you next time. 

 

Now, of those four classes of photographers – I’m firmly about two levels before beginner – so sort of a Homo Erectus if comparing to modern hominids if I may.  That doesn’t mean I’m not trying – I did buy an R6 with a 100-400 lens (it’s even white), and shoot in M or A.  But now and then you’ll notice things maybe are a bit out-of-focus, maybe the horizon isn’t perfectly straight, maybe an ear or a foot are missing from certain animals, and maybe sometimes you may see the strange and rare half-wild-dog or half-lion – these animals appear to be missing half of their body (could be the front half or back half, who knows).  In other words, I need to work on composition, the technical side, and just about everything else.  But every now and then…

 

Finally (and somewhat disappointing compared to previous safari's), I wasn’t particularly lucky with dramatic sightings on this trip (for example the day after I left Old Mondoro, the wild dogs took down a Buffalo).  Just missed it. 

 

But if you like to look at various African animals in relatively sedentary positions, then this trip report could be for you.   BTW, if I’m being too wordy, please let me know.  I can ramble at times.

 

Opening very brief thoughts about the trip (will provide further details in another installment):

Lower Zambezi – loved it, pure magic, truly unbelievable.  And Old Mondoro is out-of-this-world.

South Luangwa – not particularly certain I’d be back to this area. Maybe. Tafika was pretty amazing.  The other side of the river not so much (Shenton’s area). Could be luck of the draw. Could be the weather. Could also be something that I’ll provide details on a little later in the report – for now I’ll be purposefully cryptic – the something I’m referring to rhymes with “Bilm Bruise”. See if you can guess.  I think in the end it was a combination of a number of factors that led to disappointing sighting’s on this side of the river.

A couple of pics from the trip follow, mainly to test whether I’m posting correctly – also, what’s the best way to post Go Pro vid clips or short video from the camera?  Can they be imbedded?  Just wondering about file size.  More to come…

 

Was asked what I wanted to see when I was picked up from Jeki by Samora from Old Mondoro - I said dogs.  Not 10 minutes later we found some of them.  Didn't stay long, and the dogs were very "lion-ish", just basically resting.

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Spent a short visit with the pooches, before heading towards Old Mondoro.  Stopped for a bit to see the below ellies.  Note:  At this time of year, there are thousands of elephants in Lower Zambezi, particularly near Old M.  Every game drive we seemed to see a number in the hundreds.  By the end of my stay, I had literally a thousand ellie pic's.  

 

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A short drive to camp, and I finally got to actually visualize the "famed" Old Mondoro.  Stunning.  Was met by the two wonderful hosts/managers, a married couple from Durban, Mark and Madeleine.  More on them later, but suffice to say after visiting perhaps 25 or 30 different camps over the past few years, these two were the very best by far.  Engaging, warm, friendly, funny.  They really add to the special bush camp vibe here.

 

A few pics of the camp follow:

 

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That's tent #3...

 

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Great view from the bath!

 

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Main dining area...

 

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Loo with a view.

 

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Door to door service..

 

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Tent #3 shots - best location and views...

 

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View from back deck - ellies get sooo close.  

 

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View from deck..

 

Well, will try to post another installment in the next couple of days, prior to heading out to Bots, with a lot more pics.  Thanks for reading along...

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  • North changed the title to September 2021 - Two stop safari: Lower Zambezi (very hot, swaggy & magical) and SLNP (very hot)....

@NorthThank you for your trip report.  I was in the exact same boat as you.  I thought it would be a one and done type experience but have now completed 7 safaris in Africa and 1 in India.  Planning the next one also which may very well be the same itinerary you just took (SLNP and Lower Zambezi).  I was in SLNP a few years ago and loved it.  Your photographs are great!!!  Looking forward to more from your adventure.  

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3 hours ago, North said:

BTW, if I’m being too wordy, please let me know.  I can ramble at times.

 

Am  enjoying your commentary so ramble on !

Do hope you have time to post some more shortly. Great photos.

 

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A great start! Dogs right off the bat!  Except now I'm going to lie awake tonight trying to figure out what rhymes with “Bilm Bruise”.  :unsure:
 

 

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@North

 

Starting with Old Mondoro must have been a dream ; our friends we met in South Luangwa at Tafika and the walking camps in 2014 went there afterwards and were very impressed ; though some minor changes have been introduced since then the soul of that camp like Tafika hasn’t changed at all  ; lovely pictures and I am looking forward for the rest of this TR😉

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Looking forward to this, and curious to know how the Shenton portion went.

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@North

We were in Chiawa from September 2nd to 6th and Old Mondoro from September 6th to 10th. Maybe we passed you on the Zambezi:)?

I like your pictures and think you are too modest about your photography. Looking forward to more.

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Great start, looking forward to the rest of this report!

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Yes, great start. Your photographs do not need any disclaimer- they are perfectly fine to really good. Nice writing style as well.  Looking forward to learning about your apparent not-so-good experience with the film crew😃

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madaboutcheetah

Look forward to hearing more ....... @North- I soooooooo miss Botswana !!!!!  Where in Botswana are you going to?  Looks like we missed each other in Tafika by a few days.

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A really engaging start. Your selling yourself way too short, I think your photos are excellent. Great Dogs! Looking forward to more.:)

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I think you are deliberately doing yourself down. The photography so far has been spot on….

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Got it! FILM CREWS. Ah ha.

 

Enjoying your words and photographs. Great job so far.

 

'Instant' dogs is good 

Edited by wilddog
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On 11/1/2021 at 7:22 AM, North said:

 

 

My first safari was to Tanzania, and pretty much since then I’ve been hooked. To be blunt, I was somewhat naive – I wrongly assumed that this was just a bucket list type of thing, something to check off the list, something to tell the grandkids about, been there and done that.  But something strange happened on that opening trip, of course to no one else in my family, just me.  Turns out I bit really hard, and the hook it seems is set quite firmly.  Appears I cannot spit it out.  And to be frank – I’m a bit of a junkie now.  And while it’s a habit that’s not particularly unhealthy, it is however quite expensive, and can eat up large portions of my time.  

Welcome to the club. 

 

On 11/1/2021 at 7:22 AM, North said:

 My wife realizes now (she’s said so) that these trips just seem to book themselves…

 

I like that saying - it happened to me all the time!

 

 

On 11/1/2021 at 7:22 AM, North said:

 In fact, I’m certain I’ve seen some of you on safari, with your carefully coordinated tan or sage safari-chic matching outfits, and of course your eight-foot-long white lenses (nine feet with the hood) protruding from the side of the vehicle like some sort of medieval cannons).  If I didn’t say hello, I apologize.  I’ll get you next time. 

 

Hmm so far those I've travelled with fromm this forum are often dressed in t-shirts, sometimes shorts/uncoordinated trousers and tousled hair so you may have been talking to ST-ers without knowing!

 

 

On 11/1/2021 at 7:22 AM, North said:

But if you like to look at various African animals in relatively sedentary positions, then this trip report could be for you.   BTW, if I’m being too wordy, please let me know.  I can ramble at times.

 

don't worry - many of us do!

 

On 11/1/2021 at 7:22 AM, North said:

 

Opening very brief thoughts about the trip (will provide further details in another installment):

Lower Zambezi – loved it, pure magic, truly unbelievable.  And Old Mondoro is out-of-this-world.

South Luangwa – not particularly certain I’d be back to this area. Maybe. Tafika was pretty amazing.  The other side of the river not so much (Shenton’s area). Could be luck of the draw. Could be the weather. Could also be something that I’ll provide details on a little later in the report – for now I’ll be purposefully cryptic – the something I’m referring to rhymes with “Bilm Bruise”. See if you can guess.  I think in the end it was a combination of a number of factors that led to disappointing sighting’s on this side of the river.

 

 

 

 

Well i also had a beef with the Bilm Bruise in SLNP when we were there - don't let them ruin your enjoyment of the park though!

 

Much enjoying your report - look forward to more. 

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On 11/1/2021 at 12:22 AM, North said:

My wife realizes now (she’s said so) that these trips just seem to book themselves…

it would be great when they also pay themselves... :D

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offshorebirder

@North - thanks for this trip report and your prose is enjoyable, as are your solid photos.

 

Question for you:   was it still one large pack of Wild Dogs in Lower Zambezi NP, or had they split into two smaller packs?   I'm curious because in July the guides from various camps expected the pack to split before long.

 

 

 

 

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@North

This trip report is of great interest to me because your itinerary was almost the same as ours back in July 2018 . I’m guessing you may have read my trip report on here. Our itinerary was ( in order)  Tafika, Kaingo, Old Mondoro and Chiawa. 
We also really loved  Old Mondoro camp ( same couple managing it ) and the Lower Zambezi Valley.

Had no idea there were thousands of elephants there in September- there were very few in July - would have probably influenced the timing of our trip.

Regarding SLNP , while we really liked Tafika the game viewing ( with the exception of leopards) was much better at Kaingo. So I guess this may be a matter of luck. 
 

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  • 2 weeks later...

@North, great start and can't wait to read more! And your photos are lovely.

 

I'm very curious to read more about your experience in SLNP and why you are a maybe for returning. I am just the opposite: I can't wait to go back to SNLP. As for LZ, we had a great time, but it just didn't captivate the same way.

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  • 3 months later...
TravelMore

Hi @North. I am super excited to read your report. We are going to Chiawa and Kaingo Sept '22. Love your pics and narrative. And thanks to @AKR1for the hint rhyming with bilm bruise.😉

Edited by TravelMore
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